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Günter Figal – Simplicity. On a Bowl by Young-Jae Lee / Einfachheit. Über eine Schale von Young-Jae Lee
Günter Figal – Simplicity. On a Bowl by Young-Jae Lee / Einfachheit. Über eine Schale von Young-Jae Lee

Günter Figal – Simplicity. On a Bowl by Young-Jae Lee / Einfachheit. Über eine Schale von Young-Jae Lee


0 Pages, 8.46 x 8.46

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $24.99 (US $24.99) (CA $33.95)

Publication Date: March 2014

ISBN 9783868331509

Rights: US & CA

modo Verlag (Mar 2014)

Price: $24.99


There are things that would often not draw aesthetic attention. They may even be overlooked, as if they just belonged to their surroundings. They are by no means banal, but they are often not immediately and also not always recognized as artworks. They are no trivial results of mass production, but also no icons, which, universally known and spectacular as they are, receive conventional reverence and emphatic admiration. They are just there, being what they are. If one takes cursory notice of such a thing, one may quickly recognize what it is and rest content with that realization. It may be a bowl, of medium size, standing on a rather small but powerful foot ring, and covered with a pale grayish glaze; a bowl standing there likely without any special purpose. Often, someone passing by would register its shape and color without taking any further interest in it. It is just a bowl, one of these things that are to be found in apartments or houses, placed on a table or on a sideboard. But it may also happen that a thing like this bowl catches one's eye. One hesitates, and then one looks at the bowl more closely. One realizes the elegance of its shape, the swinging line of its contour, and the subtle character of its glaze. One sees that the glaze is not completely even; one can trace its flow over the bowl's surface, and there are even some flat drops. There are also dark, metal-like shining spots, not many, more or less small spots, irregularly spread over the surface. As one could know or learn, they are effects of mineral elements in the clay, which penetrate the glaze during the process of firing, and which, as it were, explode on the surface. The glaze does not completely cover the bowl's surface. In a few places it is transparent, mainly at the foot ring and at the lip. One can easily find out that this transparency is not incidental. The potter's hand has left traces; it wiped away the glaze before it had become dry; carefully, but also as if the gesture had been unintended. The traces are not marks that express the process of production, but rather belong to the bowl itself. Contemplating the bowl in this manner, one may develop a deeper interest. Perhaps one will realize that this bowl is not just a piece of crockery made for everyday use. If one takes it from the table or sideboard and turns it upside down, one will see that there is a signature inside its foot ring in calligraphic East Asian writing. One can find out to whom it belongs, and thus one can come to know that the bowl is a masterpiece by a prominent ceramic artist, Young-Jae Lee. What first appeared as just a bowl has proved to be an artwork. This, again, may be confirmed by the experience that one can contemplate the bowl for a long time and gradually realize its subtlety, its solid lightness – its beauty.

Author Biography

Günter Figal, born in Langenberg (Rheinland) in 1949, pursued philosophy and German studies at the University of Heidelberg, where he earned a doctorate in 1976 with a dissertation on Theodor W. Adorno. He achieved his habilitation in 1987 with a work on Martin Heidegger. From 1989 to 2002, he was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tübingen. Since 2002, he is Professor of Philosophy (chair) at the University of Freiburg. He has held many appointments as visiting professor, among others at the Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya (Japan), as the Cardinal Mercier Chair at the Catholic University of Leuven, and as the Gadamer Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College. His books and articles have been translated into fifteen different languages.